Rhodes says knee injury 'not a problem' Weight work gets blame for soreness

Orioles notebook

Kamieniecki retires 7 straight Braves

March 11, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles left-hander Arthur Rhodes had his sore left knee examined yesterday by Dr. Michael Jacobs, and assistant general manager Kevin Malone said there was nothing serious to report.

"It's just a little sore," Malone said. "There's some irritation that, it's my understanding, is from doing squats."

Rhodes, whom the Orioles will depend on greatly in the bullpen this season, was limping while covering the plate during Sunday's game in West Palm Beach, and has been receiving treatment.

"It's not a problem. I didn't hurt it. I'm not going to miss any games," he said.

Manager Davey Johnson said Rhodes will remain on schedule. "He's going to be all right. He just had a little shot."

Rhodes is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA this spring. He has allowed seven hits in four innings, walked two and struck out four.

Kamieniecki toughens

Right-hander Scott Kamieniecki settled down after a rocky first inning and retired the last seven batters he faced in the team's 8-5 win over the Atlanta Braves. Andruw Jones and Fred McGriff doubled off Kamieniecki in the first inning, when the Braves scored their only run off him. He also walked a batter.

"I felt pretty good," Kamieniecki said. "I overthrew some pitches, but I guess that's normal for this time. Everything was up and they did a good job of looking for a pitch and hitting it."

Kamieniecki, a sinkerball pitcher whose right elbow has been operated on twice since the end of the 1995 season to remove bone spurs, is battling Shawn Boskie and left-hander Rick Krivda for the last spot in the rotation. Boskie and Krivda worked in relief yesterday, but Kamieniecki didn't read much into that.

"I followed Rocky [Coppinger] the last couple times. Everybody's going to get their pitching in," he said. "It doesn't matter who starts or comes in. They're going to base it on who pitches the best."

Johnson said Krivda, who was pounded for seven hits and three runs in two innings, will get the next start. "I'm trying to stretch them out and look at them at the same time," he said.

Boskie allowed a run in two innings. Said Johnson: "I thought he threw the ball better this time. He didn't leave his sliders up and over the middle of the plate like last time. He had a good changeup and a good fastball."

Alexander on display

Manny Alexander has started at second base in all three exhibition games against Atlanta, including yesterday, when he singled and reached on an error. The Braves made an offer for Alexander over the winter, which the Orioles rejected, but it's no secret the club is looking to move him, and that scouts are paying attention.

"I'd say that's accurate," Malone said.

Hammonds rumors

Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds is trying to ignore the talk of him being part of a package being offered to the San Diego Padres for the rights to Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu.

"I'm not the first to go through this and I won't be the last," he said. "You watch the veterans, see how they handle it. And they don't let it affect them. It's part of the game. Who am I going to be mad at? I just have to go out and prove to everyone that I'm worthy of playing."

Neagle shelled

Braves left-hander Denny Neagle, who pitched at Arundel High School, was treated rudely by his hometown team, giving up five runs and seven hits in three innings. Acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for the stretch run last year, Neagle has allowed nine earned runs in eight innings.

For a change, he didn't come into a camp as the ace of a staff, as he was with the Pirates. He'll be the Braves' fourth starter, without complaint.

"If I'm No. 4, then I've got to like our staff," he said. "All that matters to me is getting a World Series ring on my finger. Just give me the ball every five days and I'll lay back in the shadows of the [Greg] Madduxes and the [John] Smoltzes, and hopefully get my 15 to 20 wins."

Interleague play starts this year, and the Orioles will play in Atlanta on June 13-15. Next season, the Braves would come to Baltimore.

"That's good. I could use another year off from that because I'm sure I'll probably need 60 tickets," said Neagle, who pitched two innings at Camden Yards during an exhibition game in 1993. "The last time, I gave up one hit, to [Cal] Ripken. I didn't mind that at all."

Focus looks good

Johnson said last week that the Orioles seem more determined and focused than last season.

"I don't know why. Maybe it's us not getting to the World Series," he said.

"I feel like we're real close to starting the season. I've got to pull the throttle on some guys because they're peaking and it's too early. Everybody's in great shape, everybody's swinging the bat very good, and we've got three weeks down here. But it's a good problem."

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